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Pensacola News Journal: Editorial: Stop wasting water

Monday, September 16, 2013

We find little to disagree with what was discussed during portions of a two-day leadership summit in Orlando that concluded Friday.

Chief among the topics that should concern every Floridian – and future Floridians – is the amount of water we will need in the coming decades.

That’s why we agree with state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam who said water will be the top issue in mappng out the state’s future. It’s key to maintaining the quality of life across the state as well as ensuring economic and residential growth.

“If you think about the golden eggs that Florida depends on – tourism, agriculture construction – they’re all dependent on water,” Putnam said Thursday. “This is a critically important issue and they’re all inseparable.”

He said the state should learn from past bad practices, not repeat them and find better ways to ensure an ample supply of water.

“There’s been some chapters in our history where we didn’t exactly get it right, and we need to get it right,” he said.

The Associated Press reported that during the summit, Melissa Meeker said Florida’s demand for water is expected to increase by about 1.4 billion gallons a day to 7.9 billion gallons in the year 2030. Meeker is the former head of the South Florida Water Management District and current vice president of CSA Ocean Sciences Inc., an environmental consulting firm.

She said conservation is important but it won’t be enough to meet that demand while still protecting the environment.

She argued that more water should be recovered, stored and reused, and the state should step up desalinization efforts.

“It’s no longer acceptable for us to use water just once and then dispose of it,” Meeker said.

She said that some of the 1.7 billion gallons of water that flows into the ocean and Gulf each day must be captured and stored for reuse.

“We have 1.7 billion gallons of water going to tide. Just lost forever,” she said.

We also agree with another participant, author and journalist Cynthia Barnett, who focuses on water issues. She said Floridians can do a much better job conserving water. She said plans should be in place to use less water, not more.

“It’s possible to live very differently and live well and I think we will. I think we can still cut our water use in half,” she said, according to the Associated Press.

Freshwater is plentiful in Northwest Florida. However, it should not be squandered. Those of us who have lived during summer droughts know we can get by with less water, including not washing cars so freqently nor watering lawns every day. Looking for ways to conserve now will help reduce future demand.

Government also has a role in our water supply. The state House this month will convene for three days to begin committee work for the 2014 legislative session. We urge the committees that oversee water management and usage, including those that deal with agriculture and tourism, to consider ways to meet the state’s growing demand for water.

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